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Presentation Makeover Week

January 5, 2015

Presentation Makeover Week
Since 2009, Just say no to PowerPoint week has unofficially taken place at the beginning of February. PowerPoint does not require bad behavior and other tools can just as easily produce poor slides, so I propose changing the name to Presentation Makeover Week and adding a challenge.

In the first week of February do one or more of the following:

  1. Create a presentation with no text
  2. Incorporate a new (to you) active learning strategy into a presentation
  3. Try a new (to you) presentation tool

Afterwards, come back here and share your experiences in a comment, so we can learn from each other.

UPDATE: see the poster here.

Ellis Hall Active Learning ClassroomActive learning

Everyone wants students to be actively engaged in learning. One way to make a lecture-oriented course more learner-centered is to split class time into several segments with short periods of student activity in between. Try polling, write-pair-share, or another strategy from one of these resources:

If you are worried about not having time to present an important topic, consider moving students’ first exposure to that material out of the classroom – and holding them accountable for it. This idea is at the heart of the flipped class approach.

Presenting without text

Students experience cognitive overload when they try to simultaneously process the words spoken by an instructor and those projected from a computer. Psychologist Richard Mayer’s modality principle argues that verbal information is processed better as narration than as on-screen text.

Sisters, ExplorersIn Presentation Zen, Garr Reynolds explains that images can be much more powerful than words – especially when accompanied by a story. Try making a presentation with no text at all. Use the best images you can find; you may even learn a little about visual design in the process. If you can’t eliminate text completely, limit yourself to an average of one word per slide – but no bullet points!

Other tools

PowerPoint is simple to use and very flexible, but you can easily fall into bad habits when the default layout is a bulleted list. Trying a tool like Prezi,, or Keynote may help you abandon those evil ways. When you return later on with a new set of eyes, you may find that PowerPoint does the cool thing you discovered in the other tool. Or you may simply have a new option in your bag of tricks.

Flickr images: Ellis Hall Active Learning Classroom by Queen’s University
and Sisters, Explorers, by Derek Bruff

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